YOUNGBLOOD: In a bid to discover and nurture sailing talent for future America’s Cups, a Youth America’s Cup series will see national teams of young sailors compete against each other on 30ft one-design foiling monohulls. The series is a joint initiative between Emirates Team New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the China Sports Industry Group. Crews will comprise two men and two women aged from 18 to 24, and more than one entry per country will be allowed. The new AC9F boats are being built in New Zealand, and the series will begin with a fleet racing event in China this November. A match racing event in Auckland will follow in December, and the finals will be held there in March 2021. For more, visit youthamericascup.com.
COMANCHE ROUT: Comanche, co-skippered by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant, got the better of a five-way battle between 100ft supermaxis to take line honors in the Sydney-Hobart race last December. With American Stan Honey navigating and a star-studded crew keeping the boat up to speed, Comanche lost the lead several times but finally pulled away to edge out Christian Beck’s Infotrack. A grudge match between nine-time race-winner Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards, and Scallywag, helmed by Volvo Ocean Race veteran David Witt, went down to the line, with WOXI taking third place by just 38 seconds. Overall winner was the TP52 Ichi Ban, which also won in 2017. This year’s heartbreak award went to Scallywag, which was challenging for the lead when it reportedly struck a shark with its rudder and had to back down to set the creature free. For more on the race, including complete results, go to rolexsydneyhobart.com.
READ SEES DOUBLE: North Sails president and top-level ocean racer Ken Read has teamed up with Jeanneau to campaign a Sun Fast 3300 in a number of doublehanded races this year. Read and navigator Suzy Leech’s first outing was the 120-mile Fort Lauderdale-Key West race in January. Long popular in Europe and with a growing number of adherents in the States, two-handed racing looks to be the next Big Thing, with a mixed-gender doublehanded offshore keelboat class set to debut in the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Read says North has worked with Jeanneau to develop a larger sail plan for those 3300s sold into the North American market, adding that “now comes the hard work on the water.” For details, go to jeanneauamerica.com.
SPAIN AIMS TO REIGN: Hard on the heels of the news that Denmark is to have a team in the 2020 SailGP series, CEO Russell Coutts has announced that Spain will also join the series. The Spanish crew will take over the foiling F50 catamaran formerly campaigned by the Chinese team, which will not take part this year after finishing third in 2019. SailGP rounds will be held in San Francisco on May 2-3 and New York on June 12-13. Go to sailgp.com for more.
OCEAN RACE STOPOVERS: Although the final route and start dates have not yet been confirmed, stopovers have been announced for 2021-22 The Ocean Race, successor to the Volvo Ocean Race. As in the past, racing will begin in Alicante, Spain, with the fleet then heading to Sao Vicente in the Cabo Verde Islands off West Africa. Next stop is Cape Town, South Africa, after which the boats will go to Shenzhen in China. From there, they’ll sail to Auckland, New Zealand, then around Cape Horn to Itajai, Brazil, before heading across the Atlantic. After stopovers in Aarhus, Denmark, and The Hague in the Netherlands, the fleet will race south and into the Mediterranean for the finish in Genoa, Italy. After more than 25 years of one-designs, there will be two classes for the event—one for existing Volvo Ocean 65s, the other for foiling IMOCA 60s. For more, go to theoceanrace.com.